CORPORATIONS: Ferguson Goes It Alone

In 1939 a shy, taciturn Irish inventor named Harry Ferguson made a deal with a shy, talkative inventor named Henry Ford. They both thought that a Ferguson-designed tractor, which had a hydraulic mechanism to raise and lower a plow automatically, would revolutionize agriculture. It didn't—exactly. But in the process the Ford Motor Co. made 250,000 Ferguson tractors, helped build Harry Ferguson Inc. into one of the biggest U.S. agricultural equipment companies.

Last week young Henry Ford II announced that the seven-year deal was off. Neither Ford nor Ferguson gave a reason for...

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